* Russia say says Ukrainian jet tracked airliner
* Asks Washington to produce satellite evidence
* Moscow denies supplying rebels with weapons
By Maria Tsvetkova
MOSCOW, July 21 Russia's Defence Ministry on
Monday challenged accusations pro-Russian rebels were to blame
for shooting down a Malaysian airliner and asked the United
States to produce satellite images to support its assertions.
At a briefing in which generals used flashing radar images
on big screens in a state-of-the-art conference room, the
ministry said a Ukrainian fighter jet had tracked the airliner
despite Kiev's assertions that no aircraft were nearby.
The ministry also denied supplying the separatists in east
Ukraine with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, known as
"Gadfly" in NATO, or "any other weapons".
The hi-tech presentation appeared a direct response to
video and audio recordings used by Ukrainian security officials
to back up their accusations of Russian and rebel involvement -
recordings the ministry's comments suggested were fabricated.
"Russian air space control systems detected a Ukrainian Air
Force plane, presumably an SU-25 (fighter jet), scrambling in
the direction of the Malaysian Boeing ... The distance of the
SU-25 plane from the Boeing was from 3 to 5 kilometres (2 to 3
miles)," Air Force Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev said.
"Earlier, Ukrainian officials said that on the day of the
Boeing 777 crash there were no military aircraft in the region -
as you can see this does not appear to be true."
Another officer, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov, said
that, "whether it is a coincidence or not", a U.S. satellite had
been monitoring the area at the time.
"We also have some questions for our U.S. partners," he
said. "According to the U.S. declarations, they have satellite
images that confirm the missile was launched by the rebels. But
nobody has seen these images."
"If the American side has pictures from this satellite, then
they should show the international community."
Russia and Ukraine have been waging a fierce propaganda war
over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where the rebels rose up in
April against Kiev's rule.
In an echo of the U.S. State Department's use of lists to
debunk what it calls "misinformation" in the Ukraine crisis,
Russia issued its own list on Monday of 10 leading questions it
wanted Kiev to answer about the downed passenger jet.
President Vladimir Putin has pointed the finger at his
Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, saying the disaster
would not have happened if Kiev had not ended a ceasefire with
Putin, looking drawn, made brief televised comments on the
crisis that signalled a new determination to get Russia's
version of events across, although they were first released in
the middle of the night.
He said the downing of the airliner, killing all 298 people
on board, must not be used for political ends, but did not
respond directly to the accusations of Russian involvement by
supplying arms to the rebels.
Monday's military briefing was the first detailed comment by
Russia - which has radar stations and military bases near the
border with Ukraine - since the passenger plane came down on
Thursday in territory controlled by the rebels.
At the presentation, the officers said the Malaysian
airliner was one of three civilian aircraft in the skies over
eastern Ukraine at the time.
Kiev later said it stood by its accusations.
"There is evidence that the missile which struck the plane
was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from
the Russian Federation," said Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for
Ukraine's Security Council.
(Acdditional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin,; Writing by
Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Will